“What a library you’ve got here, Twilight.” Geoff exclaimed, letting his eyes wander over the curved bookcases against the crystalline walls. He bent over to better see the detail Twilight had gone into organizing her books.
“Well,” Twilight said sheepishly, “is nothing like Canterlot’s library.” Geoff went row by row feeling the spines of multiple books and reading their titles. Most were surprisingly in English, while others were in a language that seemed alien to him. He picked up one of the foreign books, leaving the book on the left to lean on the book of the right so he wouldn't lose It’s place. He cracked the book open and merely looked at the words. All of them were gibberish. He could clearly remember when he first opened the scroll that gave him control over his abilities that the symbols were the same. But with the scroll, it was like he could kind of feel what the scroll was saying. Now, though, it all seemed like chicken scratch.
He flipped through the pages, mainly regarding the age of the book and the pages within. Twilight leaned to one side to get a view of the book Geoff had between his hands. She couldn't get a clear view, so she trotted to him and looked at the books contents. Geoff was staring at a page with all kinds of plants and herbs native to Equestria. Most of these plants, however, have gone extinct. She noticed how Geoff was simply feeling the pages between his fingertips.
“Oh,” Twilight said, “that’s the thirteenth volume of the ancient alchemist Bay Leaf’s Herbologist’s Guide to Equestrian Flora and Almanac.” She finished with a smile. “I've read it a couple of times.”
“Well the pictures look cool.” Geoff said, feeling the fragile pages between his fingertips as he flipped to another page. “Wait, you can read this?” Geoff’s eyebrow cocked upwards, his eyes not leaving the page he was on.
“Welllll,” Twilight dragged, “in this case, I'd use the word ‘read’ more loosely.” She giggled, “I'm not an expert on Old Ponish. I know many of the words and structure, enough to read a book at the very least. I've even gone to Celestia herself in my time as her student to ask about certain words. Most of the time, she would say that a word or phrase would actually be nonsensical or made up.”
Geoff nodded slowly, eyes still scanning the pages and it's pictures. “What if that spell thing the princesses are looking for is in one of your books?”
“Oh I don't think so.” She said as a matter of factly, turning around beginning her walk back to the center of the library. Geoff closed the book shut and carefully placed it back onto the shelf in its rightful place. “I've read nearly every book in this library and none even remotely mention interdimensional magic. The rune that the princesses found to bring you and your friends here was an absolute fluke.” Geoff was now right next to Twilight as they exited the row they were in, now moving in the direction of a desk in the center of the enormous library. “The book was found in only two days of searching the library at Canterlot. Even then, gathering everything was a chore. Beyond that book, the princesses have never seen magic like that.”
“Then just check that book for the spell you're looking for.” Geoff furrowed his eyebrows, almost annoyed. As Twilight sat at the desk they now arrived to, she scoffed.
“That was the very first book we checked.” She explained, “the book only referenced another book at the end of the already vague rune used to bring you all here. It's in Old Ponish, so of course a word or two in the reference is completely unreadable. At least the guards know what kind of title to look for. It shortens the search to only a few weeks instead of several months looking for books that may have the rune’s procedures.”
Geoff couldn't argue with the logic. He couldn't ask her or the other princesses to check again. He felt kind of bad, insulting their intelligence so quickly. He knew he was frustrated with being stuck there, so he decided to change the topic when he saw a picture frame on Twilight’s desk. In it, he saw four ponies, one of which being Twilight. He picked it up to get a better look at it. Twilight noticed his curiosity.
“That's my family.” she said, looking at the contents of Geoff’s hands. She pointed with a hoof at each member as she called them out, “Thats Night Light, my dad. Twilight Velvet, my mom. And that's Shining Armor, my brother.” Geoff looked closely at each of them. They seemed like a happy family. The picture didn't seem too old so he assumed they remained a happy family. Shining had a foreleg around his little sister’s back as he held a wide, awkward smile. As if he didn't know how to smile for a camera.
“So where is your family? Now that you're a princess and all that.” Twilight had already continued looking through a reference book, holding the titles of many spell books in Old Ponish. She had spent the past few days deciphering the language, trying to find a match of some sort and hoped the reference would share insight on its whereabouts.
“My parents stayed in Canterlot. My brother became Captain of the Crystal Guard.” She cracked a warm smile at the mention of her brother. “He married Princess Cadence, the Crystal Empire’s princess, just a few winters ago.”
“So wouldn't that make him a king and her a queen?”
Twilight frowned. “Not necessarily. Shining isn't of ‘royal blood.’ I may be royalty now, but we weren't when we were born. Our parents were mere citizens. Because of that, Cadence remains princess and Shining remains Captain.”
“Oh shit, my bad.” Geoff apologized, “I didn't know this was a touchy subject.” He noticed her solemn expression and tried to make amends.
“It's not, really,” Twilight reassured Geoff with a chuckle, “it's just that sometimes I feel that Shining should have these wings so that he could properly be king. And because he's stronger, more brave, and confident in anything he does.” She extended a wing to view it with near regret, wondering what they would look like on Shining.
“Hey, you're doing a good job as a princess.” Geoff patted her back lightly, “You're doing your family proud. I'm sure of it. In fact, I think your brother might like it better this way.”
“How do you know if that's true?” Twilight questioned, her eyes glazed towards Geoff’s.
“Well,” he explained, “I've had my time in the military. I know that there are many soldiers that believe some other sergeants should make officers, or officers should make general. But those same officers and sergeants won't go that high.” Twilight shook her head in surprise and raised an eyebrow.
“Why wouldn't they?”
“For the same reason you think your brother deserves the wings. They think they aren't strong, smart, or brave enough while in reality they are just as strong or stronger than the ones they believe deserve the authority.” Geoff removed his hand from her back. “You just need a chance to show it. You'll do your family proud. I can empathize, too. Look at me with my friends over there. They expect so much from me. I can run an entertainment company. But people’s lives? That’s new for me. And I'm not doing half bad, I've got to say.” He finished with a smile.
Twilight’s ever present frown morphed slowly as the corners of her mouth raised themselves from their drooped position to a full smile. She looked just like her brother in the picture. A single tear slid down her face after she turned to the table away from Geoff.
“Thank you, Geoff.”
Five Miles outside Manehattan
Geoff could not feel his legs under him. As if he had been detached from his waist down. The weight of his blood dripping claymore gradually disappeared. He cursed that memory that danced in front of his eyes, for he knew what Shining meant to Twilight. She idolized him. She wanted to fill those hoofprints that he left on the ground he walked. After this moment, there will be no more hoofprints to follow. The road ahead of Twilight is now blank as she sat over her brother’s crumpled and still form. Tears ran in streams down her face as droplets landed one by one onto Shining’s bloodied coat.
“W-what was the l-last thing I said t-to him?..” She kept choking up to herself over and over. Her closest friends gathered around her, paying no attention to the circling Sombra. Her friends shed light tears together around Twilight once they realized a brother, a son, and a close friend was now gone forever.
Sombra’s smile screamed contentedness. He was almost glowing at how perfectly things were playing out before his eyes. The pieces all landed on the right tiles, the sounds of true defeat and loss resonating within the boisterous stallion's black and beating heart.
“Do you see it now, Princess of Friendship?” He said aloud, “Can you begin to feel even the smallest inkling of pain I felt so long ago. You have lost the one most dear to you at the hand of someone you believed you could fully trust.” He stopped his circling of the group huddled around the corpse. He now stood between the Mane 6 and the Crew. “I wonder what you will do next, Princess.”
No one had time to react as Sombra was hit by an unrelenting force. The grass in the fields parted as a beam of amethyst and golden magic passed over his shoulder. An audible ping could be heard before a small explosion emanated behind Sombra. He remained unmoved and did not flinch. Once the rush of the moment had dissipated, he smiled slightly wider in the caster’s direction. The beam’s origin could be followed back to the horn of a certain purple pony in question over her dead brother, as the intensity and concentration of magic left a lingering pink mist and a swirling, teal neon-like energy twirling around the mist along the path the magical bolt took.
“As expected.” Sombra continued, his body unscathed. “Vengeance has a sweet closure to it, doesn't it, Twilight? I cannot wait to taste it myself.”
The Mane 6 and the Crew looked on in shock since the bolt was too quick to follow. Instead, their eyes followed the thin mist, past Sombra, until the mist was most thick, and almost red, around Geoff’s left shoulder. A small spot near the guard of the claymore he held upside down remained sizzling at the power behind the shot. He had deflected the shot that intended to pierce his skull. Should he have not known Twilight would retaliate, he'd also be lying in the grass motionless like her sibling. The bolt had deflected to his upper bicep, cutting cleanly through about a centimeter of flesh. Behind the cauterized wound was the impact of the bolt in the ground. A small crater in the soil of about a foot in depth and two feet in diameter was where the bolt found its resting place. Despite the bolt’s destructive power, Geoff only winced when it grazed him.
“How c-could you do this?..” Twilight choked up, tears still running down her face. Her eyes had taken on an unnaturally bright turquoise color with the purple of her irises contracted into a cat-like shape in obvious, blind rage. Flame shapes began taking form around her eye sockets, visibly moving like an actual flame. Sombra stepped aside to allow Twilight to clearly see her brother’s killer. She bored through Geoff, allowing Sombra to close the distance between himself and his portal.
“Now Twi,” Applejack said softly, “I know this whole situation turned sideways mighty quick, but there ain't no need to be blamin’ Geoff here for an honest mistake.” She scanned her eyes across her closest friends and then back on Twilight. “Would you have shot like that at one of us if we had done that?”
Twilight shut her eyes tightly and shook her head. “I… honestly don't know… maybe…?” She said with an unsure and trembling tone. Applejack was taken aback, but did not show it. She and the rest of the Mane 6 had no clue Shining meant that much to Twilight, that she may even have done the same to them should they be in Geoff’s shoes. “But him,” she pointed a hoof across the field at the stoic Geoff, with a face comparable to a blank slate. “He knew something was off about Sombra.” Logical thought started calming her down as the flames on her sockets died down but were still present. “He should have went and-and gotten us to help.”
“He was just trying to help, Twilight.” Rainbow said respectfully. “I think any one of us could've made that mistake. Right, girls?” They all nodded slowly in agreement. The flames in Twilight’s eyes grew once again, as she rose and stepped away from her friends and now deceased brother. With all of the sorrow and grief in her heart, she said the only thing she could with as much sting as she could muster.
“Then you all are no different from him...” In an electric flash of violet and teal, Twilight vanished, leaving the crown upon her head in place. The crown fell to the grass below.
The gunfire of the Opal, Nightingale, and Restless seemed muffled to the Mane 6. They could all feel the twist of the verbal knife in Twilight’s heavy words that they now beared. Applejack could only make a disappointed sigh but feeling no less hurt than her friends. The rest couldn't hear this sigh, as they were unable to unhear the destructive words Twilight left for them. Soul crushing words that cut deeper than any sword ever could. It created a wound that could possibly never heal. The rest of what Sombra said was nearly inaudible to the girls, except Luna, who could only lament for the remaining Mane 6.
“Joy.” He said. Luna scowled at Sombra. “Come and see, humans! Behold how the elements crumble at the might of a few puny words.” He let out a hearty laugh.
Jack turned to Geoff to see if he would respond. His face remained unmoved, as if he forgot how to work his body, his claymore not leaving it's inverted position. Jack could only wonder what he could be feeling. Sombra had played the two leaders of their teams into distraught and chaos. Without them, their chances at defeating Sombra here and now were borderline impossible at best. Jack felt a small gust of wind pass by him in the direction of Sombra. His peripherals let him know it wasn't Geoff, as he remained planted in the same spot.
“You MOTHERFUCKER!” An iconic, rage-filled voice swore. Michael went from inert to a sustained twirl through the air with blinding speed. Both of his swords drawn and his right sword reversed for a more devastating strike. The swords blurred together like helicopter blades, almost glowing in the setting sun. Sombra only smirked as Michael’s swords phased right through Sombra’s standing body, not even cutting into anything. Michael landed with a magnificent grace as the shifting air that made way for his attack caught up with him, waving the grass at his ankles. His brow furrowed in frustration at the false image of the evil pony.
“There is no hope for you and your little motley crew.” Sombra’s voice emanating from behind Michael, making his eyes grow wide in realization. “Not anymore.” As Michael turned to strike with his left sword, a concussive force struck him in the small of his back. The sheer force made him lose grip on his swords and was flung like a ragdoll. Tumbling and rolling towards his friends, his final destination was Jack’s chest. Jack caught Michael, the force digging Jack's heels into the dirt and eliciting a deep grunt from the bearded tank. One sword tumbled to Jack’s feet on its side while the other impaled itself into the ground to his left between him and Geoff.
“Fuck me…” Michael groaned out.
“Are you okay?” Jack questioned, “Can you stand?” Michael climbed from his arms to stand.
“I think so.” Michael said, rubbing his back, fury still pulsating through his arteries.
“Now then,” Sombra continued, “Since the Gambler wasn't the one who emanated such a formidable presence, why does the true bearer of this presence not step forth so that I do not need to kill any more of your friends… yet.”
The Crew, except Geoff, looked around at each other with confusion, unsure of who Sombra referred to. He sensed a power among them that they were unaware of. He previously believed it was Geoff, since this ominous spike of power seemingly radiated from Geoff’s direction. Sombra’s clone, towards the end of the duel, realized that Geoff wasn't the one due to the irregular shifts in the source’s position. Another soldier stood on the battlefield that contained within them the power he seeked.
“Even if we knew what you were talking about,” Ray yelled over the now dimming gunfire, “why would we give you what you want?”
It was at this point, the Crew noticed the Mane 6 boarding a skiff brought by an officer from the Dreamwalker. They trudged aboard, still shaken by the events that transpired. Luna had also retreated to the skiff with apologetic eyes towards the Crew, knowing they would need to retreat as well. The battle was debatably won as many umbrums and changelings were now dead, injured, or captured. Their main objective to defend Manehattan called for an official success despite heavy losses, the death of Captain Shining, and the disappearance of the Princess of Friendship. The Opal fired up its main thrusters heading straight for the rip Sombra had created. The rip grew to compensate for the enormous ship. As it slipped it's way through the rip, Sombra considered Ray’s point.
“Hmm,” Sombra pondered for a minute, “How about a compromise?” The Crew remained silent, waiting for his proposition. They exchanged unsure glances between each other, except for Geoff, his eyes glued to the grass. They decided unspokenly that their best option was to at least hear Sombra out. After a few seconds, Sombra continued. “Since there are no objections, I will make my proposition. One of you has the ability and power to command my armies alongside me. A vital asset to my domination of this world and all others. I felt this presence through my mimic during the battle and believed it to be the Gambler. Obviously,” he raised a hoof towards the catatonic Geoff, “I was proven incorrect. All that person must do is join me in my conquest and seeking of further means of destruction. In return, I will not invade, destroy, or otherwise approach your homeworld. You have my word.” He ended with a forehoof over his chest and bowed his head to add emphasis.
“Your word means diddly dick to us!” Michael yelled, his back still sore from the blow he took. He pushed his pain to the back of his mind to express his rage. Sombra hummed with excitement and lifted his head from his bow.
“Then shall I kill you now? Or when you are back in your doomed world?”
The Crew all turned to Geoff, who may as well be a statue. The gravity of his mistake was hitting him even harder than any of the Crew expected. The few weeks that Geoff has spent with Twilight gave him the time he needed to become attached to her. He learned a lot about her and her family on their free time talking within the library or anytime they could. She learned a lot of his family as well as his success, stresses, and conventions back on Earth. In turn, he knew the hardship she faced throughout her process of becoming a princess. He always worried that he may become too close to a pony and make a friend at some point. But he never imagined that he would be the hand to end the life of this pony’s closest and only sibling. Such little time and such a destructive impact to Geoff’s psyche.
“Geoff?” Jack said, hoping to bring a response out of Geoff, “any ideas?” Geoff finally turned his head to look at Jack, Geoff’s eyes now readable. They were filled with nothing but regret, his empathy besting him, and his eyes becoming misty. He closed his eyes, shook his head, and sheathed his claymore to his back. He turned and dragged himself in the direction of another skiff loading captured soldiers onto it. Once Geoff was aboard, the skiff zipped off to the Nightingale. This was his way of saying he didn’t want his closest friends to follow and risk their lives as well.
Now, the responsibility seemed to fall to Jack. He weighed the pros and cons, trying not to think too hard about Geoff’s or Twilight’s current state. He couldn't trust Sombra as well as Michael could hit him. With Twilight in grief and in unknown whereabouts, and Geoff gone off back to the ship, they really couldn't do much to stop Sombra right here. But accepting the deal means one of them had to go with Sombra forever. Sombra knows Geoff isn't the one, he didn't show interest in Michael, leaving it to either Ray, Gavin, Ryan, or himself. It didn't take much logic to calculate that the odds were against them. This was their only option.
“Just,” Jack called to Sombra, “come over here, and tell us who it is you're looking for.” Sombra raised an eyebrow.
“I will warn you, attacking me would be pointless and-”
“Yeah, we get it.” Jack shot back, “We don't care.” Jack tried not to hang his head, not wanting to give Sombra that satisfaction. His friends reflected Jack’s frustrated and impatient demeanor, they too holding their heads high in the face of defeat.
“Very well.” Sombra said. He took his sweet time as he neared the group of humans. Even though he stepped over the limp bodies that were his umbrum army, he smiled. It was an official loss to him for the invasion of Manehattan, but he still won at the metaphorical severing of the heads of the main forces that opposed him. Ultimately, a greater victory. The Crew sheathed their weapons accepting the fact that Sombra was right about fighting him being futile. No elements meant no chance. “Pointless” being a grave understatement. Michael, still a bit dazed, bent over and picked up his swords to be sheathed as well, obviously fuming for not being able to at least land a blow on the tyrannical stallion.
Sombra approached Jack first. Once about five feet in front of him, Sombra halted his stroll. Only about a second or two of eyeing Jack was enough for Sombra to huff and move on to Ray. He bumped his frame against Michael, trying to pull a reaction. Michael only gritted his teeth through closed lips. Jack swore under his breath, hoping it would be him so that none of the other guys would have to be the one that had to leave. Once up to Ray, Sombra looked him up and down more closely than Jack.
“Like what you see? Pure Puerto Rican fire all for you, baby.” Ray quipped, gyrating his hips and winking. Even when the moment seemed wrong, Ray made some light out of the whole ordeal. Jack even chuckled seeing how Ray stuck it to Sombra no matter how bleak things looked. It helped him and the rest of the Crew keep their chins up.
Sombra didn't respond to the sarcastic gesture, only huffing as he did with Jack. He began making his way to Ryan when he stopped, further than the last two. Sombra’s eyes widened as they flicked up and down Ryan’s stocky build, examining every detail about him. After what seemed like a minute of gawking, Sombra spoke.
“It's quite surprising.” Sombra said. Ryan raising his eyebrow and crossed his arms. “You were the one wreaking havoc on this battlefield. Killing my own and that foolish queen’s insects with such ability. I'm quite impressed.” Ryan scoffed at that.
“I'm pretty sure my friends did just as good or a better job at dealing with your little buddies there than me.” Ryan said. The Crew looked at Ryan, confused whether or not he was lying to make them look bigger or being totally honest about their effectiveness. Michael grumbled under his breath, mumbling something demeaning about his own ability.
“Hmm, quite.” Sombra said, waving off the comment, “Your acquaintances don't possess the gift that has been bestowed on you. You are capable of more than what anyone is aware of. Even the princesses do not know what power you wield. Such power should not be wasted on a lost war. So come,” Sombra beckoned once, “for the sake of your planet and my patience, we should depart. And I promise you, I will hold my end of the bargain.”
Ryan hesitated, looking between his friends and Sombra, the former giving him looks that he could not read. Blank expressions hung between them all, unknowing what each other were thinking. No one opposed the sudden decision, nor did they approve of losing a friend to such a hellish being. Jack left Michael’s side towards Ryan’s position. Once up to him, Ryan casted his eyes to the ground, his robust visage failing him.
“You don't have to go.” Jack said quietly. “We can try and figure something out. Geoff could get better, and Twilight could get over it.”
“And if they don’t?” Ryan said, quickly looking back up to Jack’s worried expression. “Why shouldn't we just secure home for sure? I know we care about this place too, but this place isn't Earth. Those ponies aren't the people we've known back home. We can't save everyone for sure…” he trailed off.
Michael watched the exchange on his own. He could only see Jack’s left jawline from his angle, but could see Ryan clearly. Behind both of them in a short distance, Ray stood next to Gavin. They both seemed just as oblivious to their conversation as Michael. Michael tried to read Ryan’s lips to possibly see what he was saying to Jack. But Jack just seemed to tilt his head downward, then started to nod as if accepting something Ryan told him. He raised his hand perpendicular to Ryan’s chest. Ryan responded by slamming his opposite hand into it and holding the gesture. They pulled each other in for a hearty hug accompanied by a couple of pats on each other’s backs. Michael decided now would be the time to run over and interject. The other Lads, Ray and Gavin, meeting Michael there.
“What’s going on?” Michael said rather loudly, “You're not really going are you?”
“Yeah,” Ryan solemnly cracked his voice, “I am. It's for the best.”
“You know how insane that is, right??” Ray said in a serious tone, “You're just going to give up on all of this?”
“Yeah, what about Geoff?” Gavin added, “Doesn't he get a say in all of this?”
“Geoff ain't here,” Ryan said to the Brit, “and this may be our only way to save our home.” Ryan put emphasis to get the point clear that they were still in a place that wasn't their own. Not only that, but fighting a war that wasn't theirs. Yet. “Just, trust me on this one okay guys? Let me be selfish, okay?”
The Crew couldn't oppose his choice. He was set on saving what he could, even if that means all the lights in the sky back home going out one by one generations later. They all were not content with Ryan’s decision to willfully go his way with Sombra. In the end, it was all they had. The galleons that floated above their heads were the only sounds they could hear. The humming of the engines drew out the sorrow in losing this close friend, but only for a moment. As Ryan stuck his hand out to Michael in the same fashion as he did to Jack. They repeated the gesture Jack and Ryan had performed earlier. Ryan cycled the gesture until each member was given a thorough farewell. They all formed tears in their eyes, one by one.
Ryan took in a deep breath and sighed. He walked through the small gap between Jack and Michael towards the awaiting Sombra. He began wiping the salted droplets from his cheeks. During the exchange, Sombra looked disgusted at their farewells. Halfway to Sombra, Ryan turned his head over his shoulder, still walking. He gave the Crew a reassuring smile that went nearly in vain. It was barely noticed at what was left of the Crew, who were already mourning the loss of their charming Gent.
“So,” Ryan began saying with obvious anger in his voice, passing Sombra and into the now smaller rip in space, “let's get going before I change my mind.”
“Such excitement.” Sombra smiled, noting the annoyance, “But as you wish.” Sombra followed Ryan through the rip to a burning city with umbrums marching through the streets and changelings buzzing about, firing their weapons on their backs at crowds of the indigenous life forms. Once clear through, and Ryan not looking back, the rip was closed. Embers from the burning city fluttering down onto the grass. When the glowing chips finally reached the waving green blades, all was silent once again.
Everything had happened so quickly, the Crew didn’t know how to react. With Ryan now gone, hope to defeat Sombra had fizzled out with the closing of the rip. Even with their homeworld loosely secured by the word of an evil stallion, they couldn’t help but feel selfish as well for placing a verdict on this and any other worlds within Sombra’s reach.
“Okay,” Jack said, wiping his face, “let’s head back.”
Returning to Canterlot
The departure from Manehattan had been delayed. In order to hold all of the surviving umbrums and changelings in the brig, some had shared cells and were packed in with four or five bodies. Some were even daisy chained by chain and shackle along the bars of the cages. The remaining soldiers took up arms to guard the bound prisoners. This left the main deck all to the four remaining Crew members.
Their ride back was silent. The only noises that prevented complete silence were the engines of the Nightingale, Restless, and Dreamwalker, Equestria’s fresh air in their ears, and Ray, sitting with his legs crossed, mindlessly spinning a throwing knife by its tip to the deck. They were all gathered by the railing of the starboard side, awaiting for their slower return to Canterlot with one less Crew member. The shock of everything that had happened nearly an hour earlier still resonated within all four of them.
Jack leaned on the railing, staring at the Nightingale. He had hoped that Geoff would be feeling at least the tiniest bit better, but doubted it. Jack thought Geoff looked so… defeated. No one would have guessed he would be the one to do what was done today, or that he would end up this bad in shape. It was all so surprising to Jack. He never would have thought that something like this could happen. Geoff being devastated like this, Ryan going off with Sombra to save their own planet, and the other guys looking like there’s no hope. He turned his head away from the neighboring ship, in hopes to see his friends having a laugh.
Gavin and Michael silently talked, breaking through some of the silence. He didn't pay much attention to what they were saying since he saw Ray excluding himself from the other three. Jack didn't want to leave him by his lonesome. So he took his Hufflepuff self to go and at least let his friend know that no one was alone in this.
Once Jack made it to Ray, the Twitch gamer did not look up from the divot his knife was creating in the hardwood. Jack pursed his lips, but sat down anyways, ignoring the voice in his head that was telling him that Ray wanted to be alone.
“How’re you doing, buddy?” Jack asked in a sincere voice. Ray glanced his eyes up to Jack for only a moment before returning them to the spinning weapon now acting like a top.
“You know.” Ray shrugged, “As good as I can be.” Jack found it haunting when Ray was this serious. All remnants of his trademark childish demeanor were all gone. He'd seen the other Hunters when they got serious, so he thought nothing of them. Even right now when they occasionally cracked a smile in their silent conversation. Ray, however, just kept spinning that double edged blade into the dark wood deck by the small leather grip.
“You wanna talk about anything that happened?” Jack proposed. Ray remained silent for several seconds before he responded.
“What's there to talk about?”
Jack let out a sigh. He was right. There truly was nothing to talk about as far as the recent event. Jack leaned back with his hands to the deck, extended his legs, and tilted his head back. Looking up towards the massive balloon holding the vessel up, his eyes traced the designs in the air sack’s material. He could hear Gavin and Michael talking, again, not knowing what they were speaking about. Whatever it was, they seemed to be helping each other cheer up. Every now and then he’d hear a chuckle from either of the two. He tuned them out as he began to really stare at the balloon. Before he could distract himself fully with the intricate designs, Ray spoke again.
“What are we going to tell the princesses?” He stopped his knife mid spin, his head picked up in Jack’s direction. Jack remained silent for a few seconds, weighing pros and cons again. Ray could only watch Jack’s eyes making small movements since their gaze was more fixated on the balloon above.
“I guess we should just tell the truth.” Jack finally said. “It would make more sense than to lie for them to find out later. If they found out we sold them out to save our own asses, then we'd be in some deep shit. More so than now.” Ray slowly nodded, confirming that Jack and himself were on the same page. He pulled the knife from the wood and slipped it inside his gauntlet. Once done, he stood and gestured with his arm to Jack asking him to follow. Jack stood, unsure of what Ray intended.
“Something wrong?” Jack asked.
“There’s a lot of things wrong.” Ray said bluntly, turning on his heels and marching towards Michael and Gavin who were also sitting in the floor. “But sitting around, being a little bitch about it won't help us any.”
Jack blinked in surprise. He lagged behind Ray, unsure of where this sudden positivity came from, if he could call it that. It was the lesson they learned early on in their time here that pulled Ray back together: don't dwell on it. Jack believed it to be correct. As they approached Michael and Gavin’s retelling of the arguable “victory” from only an hour ago, Jack felt a little bit better. His friends weren't falling apart, Geoff may come around... and what Ryan told him before he left.
“Trust me, this won't be the last time you'll see me.”
By the tone of Ryan’s voice, Jack felt that Ryan truly meant it. That he would be back before they'd leave for the last time. Those words bounced around in Jack’s head, wondering when that will be. Whether as enemies or as friends, it didn't matter to Jack. He only wanted his friend back, and to make Sombra pay for what he'd done to all of them. But he just couldn't tell his friends what Ryan had said to him. Maybe Ryan said it just to him for a reason. This way, expectations were reasonable. And no one will be disappointed by the endgame.